Unprecedented attention to children and family needs is shifting the early childhood landscape in new directions. Today, more than ever, leaders are placing a greater emphasis on issues such as universal preschool, childhood obesity prevention, early literacy, paid family leave, affordable healthcare, nutrition assistance, and other supports for our youngest children and their families. The President has long been proposing investments that support a continuum of early learning opportunity, beginning at birth and continuing to age five. The First Lady’s childhood obesity initiative puts children on a healthy path during their earliest months and years. The Clinton Family is working alongside a national organization that aims to help parents and businesses take meaningful actions to improve the health and well-being of children ages 0 to 5, so that more America’s children are prepared to succeed in the 21st century. At the state level, California Legislature took a small but very crucial step recently and set aside $350 million in the fiscal year 2015-2016 budget solely for early education funding.
We couldn’t be more excited about this momentum. As we enter the 2015-2020 Strategic Plan and face sharply declining revenues, leveraging resources and implementing systems change will be key to maximizing First 5 San Diego’s impact and enhancing sustainability for the next five years. We have already started pursuing the First 5 California Impact Grant and the QPI Block Grant, which will bring in more than $9.4 million to ensure sustainability of the First 5 San Diego Quality Preschool Initiative. We are supporting systems change through the Healthy Families America (HFA) Accreditation of our home visiting program. Finally, we are working closely with the First 5 Association to create a policy agenda that addresses key areas of these investments and others like developmental screening.
We still have a lot of work to do, but we have spent a lot of time and effort to prepare for the much anticipated financial state of our funding. In fact, I am proud to share that given the $22 million budget cut for FY 2015-2016, First 5 San Diego has transitioned smoothly into the first year of the 2015-2020 Strategic Plan – a transition not possible without the notable leadership of our Commission, diligence of our staff, and collaboration of our community partners. Together, we are committed to making meaningful and lasting change for our youngest children and ensuring the best possible services for children ages 0 through 5 and their families, now and in the future.